Forget zucchini noodles, it’s time to get your heart a’ pumpin’ with some hardcore carbo-loaded-nara. We’ve rounded up the best eggy pasta in Melbourne, and we’ve even included the blasphemous (but equally delicious) creamy adaptation, because a lil’ cream never hurt nobody (lactose-intolerant peoples excluded).
After scouring every Italian restaurant in the city, here are the best carbonara dishes in Melbourne.
With locations across Victoria, Melbourne can’t get enough of 400 Gradi’s world-class Margherita. If you’ve been too busy scoffing down chewy-crusted pizza to try their classic spaghetti alla carbonara with egg, Italian guanciale (an Italian cured meat) and pecorino sardo, get your cheese-loving butt around it. This particular carbonara is only available at 400 Gradi Crown.
Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar
This Italian institution has no set menu with daily dishes written in chalk on aging blackboards. If you’re lucky enough to visit while Pellegrini's is serving homely, no-frills carbonara, thank chee-sus because you’re about to be transported to carb-y cheese-filled heaven. You can mop up their creamy, decadent sauce with pillow-soft bread.
Don’t be fooled by Donnini’s unpretentious fit-out, or it’s spot on the tourist trap of Lygon Street. Once a forkful of their plump, handmade spinach and ricotta tortelli coated in rich cream of mascarpone sauce hits your tastebuds, you won’t re-grate this choice. Patrons have the option of choosing the Tortelli Di Ricotta paired with two other Donnini carb-y favourites, in case you want the best of all pasta worlds.
Umberto Espresso Bar
In a plain, simple interior off High Street, Umberto Espresso Bar is quietly serving some of Melbourne’s best carbonara. Cheese-lovers can’t miss this traditional, brie-licious combination of spaccatelli, pancetta, onion, garlic and egg. It’s simplicity that will have you craving more.
Fox In The Corn
With a focus on using ethically sourced produce, Fox In The Corn’s creamy carbonara with braised pancetta, leek and parsley is totally guilt-free. Maybe not for your waistline. Sinfully rich, pair it with your choice of pasta including melt-in-your-mouth spinach and ricotta ravioli. Serves are generous, but your friends better not comté on you sharing.
This tidy little Italian institution in St Kilda has been serving authentic cuisine for over forty years. One of their staple dishes is of course the classic carbonara, made with egg, bacon, cream and herbs. We highly recommend easing into a hearty serving of it with a big plate of chilli calamari to start.
Mercadante may have only been drying fresh pasta for a measly twelve years, but that hasn’t stopped them from serving phenomenal food and second to none service. Most noteworthy, however, is their bloody good carbonara with rich cream and egg sauce combined with spring onion, lean bacon and pepper. FYI: bring elastic-waisted pants to Mercadante.
At Pinocchio’s in South Yarra, you can get your carbonara sauce fix with any past of your choosing. Have your ‘nara with either gnocchi, spaghetti or penne (or all three, we’re not judging). And of course, cleanse your palate first with a few slices of bruschetta on arrival.
The home of the CBD’s best-bloody-margherita-pizza is also coincidentally home to a damn good carbonara special that makes the rounds on the blackboard every once in awhile and will be in your dreams for everyday afterwards. Best to phone ahead to avoid disappointment, which is basically impossible because their margherita pizza is a permanent menu fixture.
Tiamo in Carlton is a Lygon Street hotspot that’s been the backdrop for countless post-footy family dinners over the years. Aside from a stella homemade tiramisu, Tiamo put together a mean sans-cream carbonara tossed with eggs, bacon, cracked pepper and parmesan. Don’t forget to grab a tub of Gelato from Pidapipo afterwards for the ride home!
Richmond is an epicentre of first-class edible delights, and it’s no different for the carbonara category. Pasta Adagio is a Bridge Road restaurant that packs a strong pizza punch but also knows their way around a damn fancy carbonara. Get a load of this: carbonara pasta on a nest of tagliolini, calamari, borage, battarga and salmon caviar. We’re not sure what 80% of those words mean but we’re already reaching for our wallets.
South Melbourne & Malvern
Head to South Melbourne to quench your carbonara thirst with a steaming bowl of Etto’s delicious carbonara with smoky pancetta, leek & garlic creme fraiche, and the optional (but highly recommended) addition of roasted mushrooms.
Forget everything you thought you knew about carbonara because we’ve saved the wildest to last. St Kilda’s Rococo have thrown tradition to the wind and have added the ‘carbonara pizza’ to their menu. Defying everything it means to be an authentic pasta, this carbonara pizza is everything you didn’t know you needed in a carb-hybrid. Featuring an olive oil and roasted garlic base, the topping includes caramelised onion, parmesan, egg, fresh parsley and black pepper. If there’s ever been a reason to phone home, it’s this.
Want more pasta in your life? Of course you do. Check out the Ultimate Guide To Melbourne's Pasta.
Image credit: Jason Loucas